Lee’s Ferry ~ Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Lee’s Ferry is where all Grand Canyon Colorado River white water rafting ventures begin! Lee’s Ferry is located in the Glen Canyon National recreation Area, just a few miles north of the Navajo Bridge that spans Marble Canyon. The access roads to this destination are paved and RV or tent campgrounds can be found on site. There is even a long term parking area for the Colorado River rafters that are doing the float trip through the Grand Canyon. Once there, the setting of Lee’s Ferry is right next to the Red Cliffs National Monument is a spectacular sight to see. The contrasting colors of blue river water, red sandstone cliffs, lush green growth on the river banks along with cotton candy clouds and clear blue skies makes this area one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. For this reason, Lee’s Ferry is simply a must to visit when doing a Grand Canyon region tour!
The old historic Lee’s Ferry used to be the only place to cross the Colorado River for hundreds of miles around and this old ferry crossing was a very dangerous one. Many lives were lost in the days of the old west in this section of the river. Lee’s Ferry continued to be a Colorado River crossing point till well after the age of automobile travel began. After a bunch of people lost their lives while ferrying their vehicles across the mighty Colorado River, the Lee’s Ferry Crossing was finally closed for good.
Soon after the final Lee’s Ferry crossing disaster, the first bridge was built over Marble Canyon, so vehicles could traverse the northern route over the Grand Canyon when going west. As it turned out, the first Marble Canyon Bridge was okay for vehicles, but pedestrians were mowed down on a regular basis, so this bridge too was deemed as being too dangerous. The modern Navajo Bridge that has a safe pedestrian walkway took the place of the old dangerous bridge that had no safety measures, so the perils of crossing the Colorado River at this location were finally conquered.
In modern times, Lee’s Ferry is an access point for hiking trails going into the Red Cliffs National Monument and it is a Colorado River boating access point. The majestic Paria Canyon is close by inside the Red Cliffs Monument, but special permits are required to visit this highly protected place. Along the entrance way to Lee’s Ferry, part of the Mushroom Rocks area of Red Cliffs Monument can be seen. The Mushroom Rocks truly are an amazing sight to see, because they look like they belong on another planet. This is a very photogenic area, so be sure to bring a good camera along for the ride!
For boaters, the Lee’s Ferry Boat Ramp is the access point for following the Colorado River upstream to Horseshoe Bend, which is just a few miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam. In this section of the river there is some great fishing, but special restrictions apply, so it is best to clarify the rules when purchasing a fishing license, in order to avoid steep fines.
For the more adventurous boater, Lee’s Ferry is the starting point for organized Colorado River rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. The river rafting trips take a few days to a few weeks to finish, depending on the choice of end point. The most popular final destination for a Colorado River rafting venture through the Grand Canyon is located near the Bright Angel Trailhead. From here all that a rafter has to do is follow the Bright Angel Trail up the steep walls of the canyon to Grand Canyon Village, which is where transportation can be found. For those who are unfamiliar with this hiking trail, the climb is like hiking a mile high mountain that goes straight up, so it is not an easy task to accomplish, especially after a strenuous whiter water river rafting ride!
Lee’s Ferry certainly is a scenic destination like no other! Even if one has no intention of dipping a toe in the water, this majestic area is still simply a must to experience. The Colorado River can be very dangerous during the spring snow melt season, so common sense must be applied. The Paria River merges with the Colorado River in this area and it too can be dangerous during a summer season monsoon rain storm. One look at the danger filled history of the old historic Lee’s Ferry is enough to let a visitor know that this can be a perilous place, yet it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. For those who seek a world of adventure, Lee’s Ferry definitely is the place to go!